Our Fourth of July

Fourth of July to me, has historically (boy that makes me sound old!) meant getting together with large groups of people, being surrounded by live patriotic music, American picnic foods…and counting down the hours till the fireworks begin!

Four years ago, however, we started our own tradition here at home. I confess to dragging my feet initially, but I’ve learned to make the best of it, and even, gasp, to enjoy myself!

You see, my husband is happiest at home surrounded by *us*. Isn’t that a novel, small scale way to spend a holiday? (Grins) So he sideswiped my notions of the “perfect 4th”–keep reading to see how tradition spells July 4th at our house these days…

It begins with a cook-out. Hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, chips & dip, roasted marshmallows, lemon meringue pie, sugar cookies, and Tampico punch. After eating way too much and feeding the scraps to the chickens and dogs, we progress to fireworks. Finally it’s dark enough to pass out the sparklers. Back to the house to refrigerate all the leftovers, and then the whole family hops on the four-wheeler and zooms to the top of the hill behind our home, where the tent awaits…where the view encompasses several firework shows in neighboring communities…where the stars hang in static brightness begging equal attention. Daddy sets off Roman candles and flower fire gardens, etc and around midnight we troop into the tent, pleasantly satiated on each other’s company. A fitting cap to a festive and memorable evening.

Once in the tent, snugged into our sleeping bags, we all take turns praying aloud, sleepily. Afterwards I mention with regret that the only thing missing in our fun evening was patriotic music. Soon the tent fills with the harmonizing of my two older girls, singing the Star Spangled Banner.

5:30 A.M. arrives, thunder and lightening awakens us adults. Hubby and I drag ourselves off the hard ground and begin rolling up sleeping bags, sure a rainstorm is imminent. And of course we don’t want to be on the highest hill around during t-storms! I run the four-wheeler full of girls down to the house and get them settled before returning to the campsite with 10 yo to help take the tent down. By this time, the occasional lightening barely rivals the early morning sky. I wish we could sit in our camp chairs and watch the sun come up, but the wind is trying to blow our tent away!

Beating the as yet non-existent rain back to the house…I sigh at the tummy rumbles sounding from me and mine. Chilly fresh-air, adrenaline rush morning being the culprit, no doubt. Thirty minutes later we file by the kitchen table, helping ourselves to sausage, scrambled eggs and French toast.

It never rained. Mad dash aside, it was nice to laze the morning away with my oldest daughter, our good reads, and two cups of Earl Gray with cookies.

The Star-Spangled Banner tradition

Now I have a question for you. Our pastor surprised me this morning in church, by bringing to everyone’s attention that anytime the National Anthem is being sung or played, the appropriate custom is for all in attendance to place their right hand over their heart or if wearing hats, to remove them to hold at their left shoulder. I knew this already, having been raised in a highly patriotic home. What surprised me was our pastor’s intimating that he’d not known of it until a military person brought it to his attention. Which explains a lot. I’d thought this courtesy was common knowledge, and confess to thinking badly of people who didn’t show this respect at rodeos and other sporting events I’d attended. Perhaps it’s becoming a forgotten tradition, which saddens me. It’s up to us to teach our children these small offerings of respect and honor to those who have fought, sacrificed and died to keep our country free.

Will you please participate in my fourth of July poll to the right in the sidebar? I’d love to read any further thoughts in the comments as well.

10 thoughts on “Our Fourth of July”

  1. We’ve begun having our kids stop anyone in military uniform to thank them for serving our country. I did it at Wal Mart last week, and you can always tell it touches them (the military.) The kids were hesitant at first, but after such big thank you’s and handshakes they’re getting used to it. I think it’s hard to talk to a stranger when you’ve been taught not to:)
    I loved your 4th of July. It sounded fun.
    102 degrees here in CA at almost 5pm…

  2. That is fun Mary! My dh and I are the same as your husband, we like to invite people around to our home too, usually we have cookouts and bbqs in the summertime :-)

    Amy’s last blog post..The two things meme

  3. Cena, what a great idea. Maybe I’ll be so bold, I can just imagine what a boost that would be to both parties. Thanks for sharing that! 102 degrees in the evening…I sure don’t envy that! Are you far from the ocean?

    Amy, cook-outs are grand, aren’t they? We’ve eaten outside more this week than we have inside! My husband has put together these home-made BBQ units, made out of truck wheels (big and deep)…he fills them with wood and covers the top with a recycled oven rack and we’re good to go! I love not having to use briquettes. We used to have to rely on them in our little grill, not anymore!

    Thanks, Jen!

  4. It looks just beautiful. Love the photos of the food too! What a wonderful way to spend the 4th. Juli

  5. We had people over on the 5th for BBQ and ours ran out of propane 1/2 way thru! So my husband made a quick fire in our fire ring and put a grate on it and finished the cooking there. It was great. The grate we have is large. Years ago DH found a discarded city storm grate (where rainwater drains thru on a city block to the sewer) and we take it camping and use it like this for cooking. It’s heavy and big, I love it. The fire ring is used for marshmallow cooking and sitting around mostly in the winter, spring, and fall telling stories and jokes and watching the stars.
    We don’t live close to the ocean, we are inland from the San Fransisco Bay area in the farming valley. My husband commutes to the Bay area 5 days a week. But at our house we have a field of alfalfa in our backyard, wheat in the front, and corn on the sides. There’s winter wheat or oats in the winter. I love green.

  6. It sounds beautiful! My mother, sister and I are big fans of the old-timey author, Kathleen Norris, who wrote stories set in the old San Fransisco area (1920s-30s) …we were just lamenting yesterday that we’d love to see San Fransisco b/c of these books, but that it’s surely not as quaint and leisurely as she describes it, esp with it being a hotbed of moral clashes. However, your area sounds much like her book settings! Have you ever read her books? My favorite is The American Flaggs, and not just because the title suits this thread! lol

    Your hubby sounds so much like mine, always making things work…using a city storm grate of all things! Mine was trying to brainstorm a large grate…he considered using a large floor furnace vent, but I think he’s decided to weld one. I love the look of fire pits!

  7. Thanks, Juli! I’m so glad you liked the pictures! It seems a little OCD to me to have taken pics of breakfast, hee, but it’s all part of the memory. We found such simple happiness snarfing it down after our crazy wake up tent packing run!

  8. I’m not a “city” person, but San Fransisco is a beautiful place to visit. I’ve sailed underneath the Golden Gate Bridge on a yacht, and there are alot of parks along different waterfronts. And even though it’s terribly touristy, we always go to Fisherman’s Wharf and eat clam chowder or crab from the stalls of vendors. Now my older kids are starting to go out to SF for plays, musicals, and ballets.

    And yes, my husband can make things out of whatever. It’s truly amazing. He just built an outdoor cabinet for our pool supplies, to keep the kids safe from the chemicals, but not have them so far away as the barn. It looks like an old outhouse, very cute from stuff in his “yard.” The pool filter/pumps that come with those pools are never adequate and we really wanted to upgrade ours to a larger pump, but the money for that was never there. Then Dan realized we had a spa someone gave us that we never set up, because we don’t have propane, only electricity (for the spa heater.) Well, the pump is alot stronger than the pool one, and it really cleans! Free! I love that. It’s waiting for the blessing rather than purchasing things that is hard.

    We are feeling the pinch, too, but because my husband’s job is in jeopardy. So we’re trying to save and pay some bills in advance in case of him having to have a few weeks of looking for work or contracting on his own. The business he works for is slow and may actually close down. Scary economy. Big God.

    Shopping less often and menu planning is back on track. As is cleaning out the freezer, and making a detailed list of the contents. Cooking and baking from scratch… getting fruit from nice neighbors…eating from the garden…

    Anyway, hot here in the valley. 110 all week!

  9. 110 all week! Oh my!!!!! I’ve only been in weather that hot twice in my lifetime (two days is what I mean!!). You have my sympathies, friend! We are having such an almost chilly July here in the mid-west! It was 60 over the weekend, and tonight while outside wearing flip-flops and shorts, I was freezing! Very strange, this “global warming”…maybe not to you Californians! πŸ˜‰

    SF sounds beautiful through your eyes. I enjoy hearing about it, and about all of Dan’s home/yard projects! That is so neat about having the pump there “in waiting”…you are right, we do serve a BIG God. I hope and pray that your job/finance situation will be blessed. It’s kind of a perfect challenge for us stay-at-home moms, isn’t it? I always find it gets me back on track with more from scratch foods…fresh popcorn for snacks, more baked breads…

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